One Lovely Blog

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Thank you so much Rich at goodtimestories.wordpress.com  for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award!

What a great way to find other great and inspiring blogs.  I was travelling this week…and THAT news channel was on in every airport….selling the nastiest drama….and these blogs are quite the opposite…heartwarming and uplifting. I thank them for bringing their own beautiful warm light into the world.

Here are 7 other lovely bloggers I would like to nominate and acknowledge for their contribution to global happiness!

http://katrinaannewillis.com/  Table for Six

http://nataliejagodaperception.wordpress.com Perception

http://wahabahussain.wordpress.com  Little Things

http://classicseo.wordpress.com/ Seo’s Blog

http://marabjorn.wordpress.com Powerful and Free

http://theworldismysoapbox.wordpress.com/ The World is my Soapbox

http://openheartmindsoul.wordpress.com Open Heart Mind Soul

 If you would like to post about this award and pass it on to others, here are the rules.


1. Add the “One Lovely Blog Award” image to your post


2. Share seven things about you


3. Pass the award on to seven nominees


4. Thank the person who nominated you


5. Inform the nominees by posting on their blogs

 

My 7 things about me:

1. My children (6 and 8) are my masterpieces and my mentors.

2. I just finished reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg.  GREAT READ!

3.  My friend just gave me a Zohar…and I am fascinated by all of it.

4.  Spain is where my heart feels at home.

5.  I have decided never again to stave myself on a diet…life is too short and too yummy for that.

6. I love my work….but I am not my work.

7.  I just turned 40 and am declaring that the rest of my future will be by my own design!

 

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Be kinder than necessary….

“Be kinder than necessary, everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”be_kinder_than-37281

The gym seems to be the great equalizer.  And I don’t mean in the way I find that mysterious flab that pops out of the sides of my sports bra while I am working out that reminds me I haven’t spent as much time at the gym as those sleek and beautiful trainers, or when I see some guy squat 200 pounds, 20 times like he was riding a bike and yet my knees buckle and shake when I am on rep 3.5.

It is the great equalizer in the sense that most people (well me) go to the gym freshly rolled out of bed, hair amiss, no makeup, dressed in a t-shirt and gym shorts.  We go to the gym to work out, we may chit chat about the weather, or last night’s game, but we are just people, striving to look good, or be healthy and to lose weight.  Sometimes we never see those people outside of the sweaty treadmills and torturous Nautilus contrapments.

I once ran into a man whom I had done yoga next to 6 days a week for 3 months in a coffee shop.  I said hello and he asked me my name.  Now I know that hot yoga is not my best look, but this man literally did not recognize me showered, dressed and with make-up on. We were strangers.

Today at the gym, as I was re-filling my water bottle, I noticed a newspaper article posted on the bulletin board about a beautiful young girl who had overcome a horrific tragedy and had recently won a teen fitness competition.  It wasn’t until the middle of the article that I realized that this article was about a young woman whom I had seen at the gym almost every day for the last 6 months.  (She too looked different in street clothes and make-up.)

As I read the article I was inspired by this girls determination, the motivation behind her diligent and constant work at the gym.  I realized that over the last 6 months, though I had noticed her and had commented to her that she looked great and her development was definitely noticeable, I had no idea who she was.

I had made assumptions about her, based on nothing more than my own imagination.  I could tell she was a dancer by the way she moved. I imagined her as a ballerina or gymnast that was training for a new part.  I wondered if she worked, or how old she was, or how she afforded to work with a trainer every single day.  But I didn’t know her. I didn’t know her story.  I didn’t know her family or her background.  I had no idea that this beautiful girl has suffered tragedy at the most painful and visceral level. I didn’t know that her work at the gym was her strategy for coping with incredible hurt and loss.

And when I saw her a moment later, she looked different. She wasn’t the just the pretty ballerina I had created in my own mind.  She was real, and authentic, with loss and triumph and struggles and victories. She wasn’t a hologram of a person in my perifery, she was real.  I was even hesitant to say anything to her, thinking I may embarrass her or offend her because I had this sense of knowing her now, it was intimate and it was raw.

I told her that she inspired me and confessed that I had no idea about what she had gone through.  And then she did this crazy thing, she shook my hand and she asked me my name.

It dawned on me that she has no idea who I am either.  To her I am probably just that weird older lady who meditates on the stairmaster, listens to spanish music and sometimes sings off key, forgetting she is wearing headphones.  The lady who comes in and says “Good Morning Girls” every morning, but nothing more.

I was like a fish popping out of the water, and becoming aware of the water.  So often we drift through life, doing our things, running our errands, attending to our responsibilities, not even noticing the richness of the people around us or the opportunities we miss to love and grow and learn and experience.  And I for one, trapped in my overworked mind, withold myself and who I am from most of the world, unaware that I am doing so.

Thank you Tiffany.  Not just for inspiring me by your heart and determination, but for pulling me out of the illusion that is my everyday routine and allowing me the opportunity to appreciate the spectrum which is our human community. You have given me the gift of distinguishing how often I am oblivious, playing out my own illsuion and drama while missing out on actual life, happening right in front of my eyes.  That was an invaluable gift.

 

What is your Water?

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There is this insightful youtube video being passed around by David Foster Wallace about Water. (YouTube: This is Water?) Not exactly about water as in “H2O”, but rather it is an analogy of our own personal fish bowls, the preverbial “water we swim in”.   Like fish swimming in a fish bowl, unaware of the water, we humans go through life without questioning our own version of “water”.

And if we go about life, without being aware, without questioning what defines our life, what shapes our experience, or inquiring as to the “point” of all of this, we are as clueless as the fish.

This past weekend, I spent most of my time and energy supporting, caring for and feeding my extended family.  As I mentioned last week my father-in-law passed way last Tuesday.  The family gathered, we ate and drank and laughed and cried, told stories and revisited memories, honoring the extraordinary life of Dick.

Dick was a man whose “water” looked like an opportunity to serve and to love and contribute.   I really don’t think it was something he thought of…..he just did.

Reflecting on his life, I began to wonder about why he was like that, what motivated him to do that, to be like that? Was he born like that? Did he learn that? Why did his “water” occur for him as if the only appropriate action to take was to love and serve?

What I know for sure, is that I wasn’t born like that.  I worked my tail off in school, did my best, tried to get good grades, all in an effort to please my parents and do what I thought was the right thing to do.  Yes, it was fun to do the occasional charitable event or be a big sister, but that wasn’t the overriding force driving my life.  I was interested in “making it”.  And making it meant doing whatever had to be done to be successful, well thought of and most importantly, admired.

By the time I hit my 20′s I was exhausted.  I started to question what all of this was about.  Life felt like a hamster wheel.  I never really thought about why I was doing what I was doing….I just did what I was told by my parents, my guidance counselor, my priest and if I am brutally honest….the media.

My “water” was….work hard, and “make it”.

Something beautiful about turning 40 is by now I have had the time to have many experiences, failures and successes, that have given me a broader perspective about life and what matters to me and what doesn’t.  The “water” looks different now.  By all accounts I “made it”.  This is what it looks like to have arrived.  Now what?

Maybe Dick arrived in the same place and made the conscious choice to love and to serve. I am not sure how he got to be the way he was, but what I do know for certain was that he was a happy man.

I was blessed to have plopped myself in the DiNoia fishbowl.  I got to see life from a different perspective.

Maybe now at the ripe old age of 40, it is time to create my own fishbowl.  One that looks at life as a privilege, an opportunity to love and to serve.

That sounds like much more fun…..and a much happier place.

Teaching and Learning in Managua

Last week I led a leadership/performance course in Managua, Nicaragua.Image

It was exquisite. I have an automatic love for hispanic people. (I think I was Spanish in a past life.)  And this week only proved my point.  The people that were in my course were amazing.  As Americans, we take for granted that building and creating a business here in the USA is actually a pretty easy thing to do.  I have started multiple businesses, as a woman, as just a regular person, who wants to try something new.  In developing countries, it isn’t so easy.  And the people that were in my course in Managua were already extraordinary in their own right.  These were people who are top executives at global companies, who shared with me that they were the first people in their families to graduate from high school.  These people had gumption, guts, drive and were motivated in ways that this Midwestern American Girl has only seen in the movies.

It brought me pause.  

I have done my share of complaining about government, about regulations about obstacles in getting what I want.  However, these people weren’t complaining.  Their overriding attitude was one of grace, graciousness, an eye on what matters and what doesn’t.  In short, they were conscious.  They had created goals and accomplishments that they wanted to achieve, without sacrificing their family and their priorities.

One of the men was the chief building manager of one of Managua’s largest hospitals, but was more excited to tell me how he is the honorary Cuban Ambassador for Salsa in Nicaragua.  He worked hard at his job, but his heart was in dancing.

Another woman is the human resources executive of a very large international firm who shared with me that every Sunday, she and her husband go out to the country to reconnect with each other and with nature.

They all had stories and things they were passionate about.  They all were successful in business and led full and busy lives. And yet, they weren’t complaining. They were happy.

These people are looking at how to elevate Nicaragua’s positions in world markets, but they were most concerned about how to do it with love, compassion and peace.

These people choose happiness, they choose love. It is their natural way of being.  I was able to teach them a few things, not from an American-who-knows-best perspective, but human being to human being.  And they taught me that we really can have it all.

Thank you my new friends in Nicaragua.

 

National Volunteer Week.

This week is National Volunteer Week.

It is actually a real thing, approved by The President and Congress.  Cooler than another Hallmark holiday at least. (Ugh, I know sarcasm isn’t becoming, but sometimes I can’t help myself.)  In all seriousness, it is a cool and inspired idea, designed to honor our fellow citizens that have provided extraordinary service.  I can stand for that.

However I have noticed something paradoxical about contributing.

When I contribute, my life is better. It feels like I did something that matters, like my life means something when I contribute to others.  Funny how that works.

Sometimes when I volunteer at my kids school though, I get embarrassed. I sometimes feel like those perfect moms who are always there, handing out water at the jog-a-thons and selling cookie dough look at me and say, “Oh, there’s that mom who is always working and doesn’t have time for her kids.”  I am sure they are not saying that (well almost sure), but I get a little  guilt ridden about it and the voice in my head tells me that I should be there more, do more, be better.

That voice is so tiring.

Coincidentally this week I had a couple of calls with clients I coach who were struggling to take some actions that would support them in fulfilling on their plans.  When we delved in deeper as to the source of the inaction, in every case it came down to things like:

“I am worried they will say no.”

“I don’t know if I will look stupid asking for that.”

“They will probably think it is a dumb idea.” (Which translates to, “They will find out I am dumb.”)

The common theme was always this: they were worried about something about themselves.  Looking dumb, being wrong or getting rejected.

A few years ago, when I really wanted to put myself out there as a coach, I kept getting stopped and hiding out in the areas that I knew I was “safe” in.  Then I had this epiphany.  I realized that  I was comparing myself to my partner who is older, has more experience and quite frankly is absolutely fabulous.  I was worried about not being as good as him, or failing and looking stupid.  And that was stopping me from doing work that I knew made a huge difference in the world.

The epiphany came when I realized how utterly stupid that was.  I was withholding a huge contribution I could make to the world, because I was worried about little old inconsequential me!

It wasn’t just that I realized I was being silly. I realized that I cared more about using my life to make a difference in the world than I do about looking dumb.  I look dumb and say dumb things all of the time.  I just don’t care as much anymore, and I practice not letting it stop me.

What I now know is this: When I am up to something bigger than me, bigger than my worries about how I will look, or what people will think of me, I accomplish more, do more and contribute more.

And that makes me happy.

So in the theme of choosing happiness, where can we all find ways to be of service? Even when we look at how what we are already doing contributes to the world, there is a freedom to play and create not available when we keep ourselves in the smallness of our little selves.

So, “Here! Here” to our fellow citizens who have contributed and volunteered and have been in service.

But they secretly know they don’t need our accolades.  They are happy. And that is the best prize.

My thoughts on Boston: We need more love people.

Martin Richard.  The precious 8 year old boy whose life was stolen yesterday in Boston.

I noticed that here in Sarasota this morning, things went on as normal.  I got up, snuggled with my kids, made breakfast and walked them to the school bus.  But with a different sense of gratitude and appreciation, not being able to imagine what anyone touched by the explosions in Boston must be dealing with today.

Most of us go through life with a taken-for-grantedness attitude about our lives and especially about the people in them.  We always think we will have tomorrow to say I’m sorry, or I love you, or to hug or to chat.  The Martins just lost all of their tomorrows with their precious boy.  And they can’t get those moments back. Ever.

I have an eight year old son. And many times when I look at him……..the emotions just well up and spill out of my tear ducts.  I love that guy with ever fiber of my being.  I would be lost without him.  (I am completely attached to him, and I am okay with it.)

When I read the articles about Martin, all I could think about was his mom and dad.  I can’t even begin to imagine what they are experiencing, the crushing pain they must be feeling.  Yesterday morning they were a happy, normal family.  Now……everything has changed.

How can one possibly make sense of that? I can’t. I am not even going to try to put some glittery silver lining on it.

I am however, going to make it useful.

We are all entitled to make the explosions mean whatever we want to make them mean.

We can make it mean people are hateful and angry and we need to hunt them down and bring justice. That is valid.

We can make it mean that hate is winning and the world is spinning out of control.  Also valid.

We could make it mean that the world is fraught with terrorists and our children are not safe to walk down the street or stand next to a trash can. Still valid.

But I have a promise to myself and my kids not to live in fear and not to engage in hateful or violent energy.

I am going to make it mean something that honors the victims and their family. I am going to make it useful to bring more light to the world. I am going to make sure these senseless deaths at least allow their too short lives to make a positive difference in the world.

I am going to honor Martin and his family, Krystale and the third deceased, along with the 180+ injured and the 10’s of thousands of loved ones who are suffering over this loss……by having this unwanted, unexpected and unfortunate event, be useful in our lives.

I had a conversation with my son today when he hit is little sister about how even that, contributes to violence in the world.  I used the analogy of littering just one Z-Bar wrapper contributes to the polluted oceans and dying sea creatures on the other side of the globe.  He said, “MOM you can’t compare my hitting her to someone putting a bomb in a trashcan trying to kill lots of people.”  But we went on to have a discussion about choosing to contribute to peace by being peaceful, kindness by being kind and toleranace by being tolerant.  He is only 8, but he got it.

I am going to put a few reminders around…to remind me that Debbie lost Martin…and I know that she would give anything in the world to hug her baby boy again….so I am going to honor her by hugging both of my precious kids and telling them I love them until they roll their eyes.

I am going to practice being kind, especially to those who may seem to be on the fringe.

I am going practice being conscious and grateful and authentic.

I am going to take extra time to give love and attention to children…..for they are our future.

And what our future needs…..is more love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let go or be dragged.

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I don’t know if it is because I am a women, or a mom, or an aquarian, or a human……but I am sensitive to and saddened by the amount of suffering I see going on in the world.  Others, and my own.

Anyone that has ever gotten to the point that they really start to question the sense of it all, has had to question the source of all of this suffering.  Spiritual teachings like Buddhism are based on that precise inquiry.

And so here I am.  I have no Phd in philosophy, but I have read books and studied and I know they all say that if we can find a way to let go of our attachment to things, we can end the suffering.

I always find that those words, written and taught , don’t mean much to me until I can experience what in the world they are talking about, directly in my own life.

I have and have had circumstances in my life which have caused me to suffer.

Sometimes the voice in my head tells me to “Shut up and stop whining,  you have it better than so many people in the world….what are you complaining about?”  And yet, that doesn’t make the hurt go away.

Sometimes the voice in my head wants to blame other people and circumstances as the cause of my suffering.

“If he would just be understanding……” “If they would just do the job they said they would do………” “If the government had a clue…….” “If the school system was better….” “If someone would just help me…..”  And yet, that doesn’t make it go away either.

And then most of the time, the voice in my head has really sweet things to say to me, such as, “If you would have worked harder….” or “If you would have just thought that through….” or “If you would have just listened to your gut….”  A litany, but in general…”If you were better, things would have worked out.” And that most certainly doesn’t make the hurt go away.

And then I realized what all of those really smart thinkers meant when they said, “Let go of the attachment.”  The attachment we have, is that we are attached and very invested in things going the way WE want them to go.  And we get very upset and suffer when they don’t.  When I think about it, I can’t find one example in my own life where my suffering was not a function of being sad, mad, or upset about things not going the way I wanted them to go. Heck, I even suffer when things don’t go the way my loved ones want things to go!

But how do we let go of those things we want?  Aren’t we supposed to want things and strive for things? Aren’t we supposed to create goals and plans?

Those seem to be the 20 eon dollar questions.  (Eon= one billion, my 2nd graders vocab word this week!)

What I have discovered is this: I am not going to give up on what I really want.  But what I really want doesn’t have much to do with all of the circumstances I suffer about. What I really want is to feel and experience love and joy and happiness.  What I really want is for others to experience love and joy and happiness.

And honestly, who I am to say which circumstances are going to get me there…..where I really want to go.

My dad almost died of a brain injury.  When he was in a coma, my family suffered.  But now he is fine, and our family is more loving, more honest and more grateful than ever.  I lost my house due to a multitude of circumstances, but I found my new apartment, my “commune” and a home life I could have never dreamed possible.  I got divorced, but my baby daddy and I have an extraordinary, loving relationship where our kids get to experience more things, more adventures and move love.

So, maybe it is simply letting go of what we think is the RIGHT way for things to be.  Maybe we start believing in a divine plan. Maybe we start living life as a game, where foul balls and strike outs are just part of the game.  Maybe instead of spending time being angry and sad about things not going the way we planned, we start looking at how this might be useful in fulfilling on the life we really want.

Maybe we just choose to be happy.

Patience.

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Patience.

Not one of my strong suits.

And yet…something probably worth practicing.

Sometimes, my impatience works for me.  I am a go-getter. I get stuff done. I am always in action. I move. I adapt. I make quick decisions.

But what about when I hit those tedious, annoying little road blocks…..like other people.

I notice that I want everything immediately, but usually expect patience from others.  It is a nasty paradox I find myself confronted with, day in and day out.

I send an email, and expect a reply, at least within 24 minutes.  Yet when I am busy or in a meeting and someone calls me 3 times, sends a text and 2 emails, I get annoyed.

I yell at my daughter to get out the door so we don’t miss the bus, but when my phone rings and I answer it, I tell her to wait. When I finally have time for her,  she tell me that she only wanted to tell me that her fish said she would miss her today.

I get annoyed when I am waiting for the doctor to see me, only to see a frail old woman walk out with a tissue and red, weepy eyes.

I crane my neck to see if I can move to a quicker check-out line, while I expect everyone to smile and wait patiently for me when my son is counting out exact change from his velcro wallet to make his very own purchase.

People are sad, or hurt, or angry, or upset.  And I just want them to get the heck over it already, because I have more important things to get to.

I see those gentle, kind people who tend gardens, or take care of the elderly, or bake, or fish, or teach kindergarten (God Bless you Sarah)……and I am in awe of their patience.

And I noticed something about those people that have this ever elusive virtue….they smile a lot.  They smile while they are waiting.  While my hair is getting frizzier, my face redder and temperature rising….they smile.

It annoys me sometimes.

People tell me to be patient with myself, patient that things are going to work out, patient that other people might possibly come through with what they promised.

It is only when I slow down and have the peace of mind to stop struggling to swim upstream, against the current, being flailed by the fishes…..does it dawn on me that being patient might be a path to happiness.

Sometimes (okay, most of the time) when we can stop and consider the situation from 30,000 feet, can we see that having a little patience might allow life to unfold in its own, divine and perfect way.  

Dead Right.

Dead Right.

You know that phrase, “You are dead wrong!” ?

There is also something called being Dead Right.

I had a dear friend stop by tonight to chat.  She was sharing with me about how someone had wronged her and she wasn’t going to talk to them anymore.

Fact is, she may be right. And many times in life we are right. I have plenty of examples from my own life, where I have hard evidence and witnesses and agreement that I’m right.

But ultimately…..so what?

What does being so “right” really give us? The right to win? The privilege to stand the moral high-ground? To be better than someone else?

I don’t know why really, but us humans….we LLLLLOOOOOOOVVVVEEEE to be right.

What I think most of us don’t realize is that this crusade to be right, and not the dreaded WRONG……robs us of our joy.

And we don’t even realize we are doing it.  It is just the way it is, right? (I just noticed, that I want to be right about my perspective on this!)

Right or wrong matters to us humans.  But just like so many things, when we get caught up living life, we don’t realize that we have the capacity to make being right matter MORE than anything else.  We make it matter more than love, health, kindness, relationships, careers, our kids and ultimately our happiness. We lock up our hearts, wrap them in the armor of our right-ness, we stew, we plot, we scheme, we get angry, we lose sleep, we get wrinkles.

And we miss life; The good, juicy, delicious stuff we actually care about.

When I think about fights I have had with my parents, boyfriend, even (I am embarrassed to admit this) my kids, who fight and bicker all of the time about who is right, and sometimes I find myself joining in, I realize I was just fighting to be right. I can be the Queen of Self-Righteousness, so above the rest of those measly humans.   

Really?  I must be insane.

I presume it is easier to see it in someone else. Tonight I saw someone who usually exudes love and kindness, but who is stifling her life, opportunities to contribute, and relationships,  all because she didn’t notice that being “right” was getting in her way.

When I honestly look at my own battles, it is easy to see that I do the same thing.

And the wars we wage to be right, prove we are right, fight to be right…..leave us dead inside.

 

 

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